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SGR Dangles Over Fiscal Cliff

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, December 20, 2012

While it appears there are discussions on Capitol Hill about the SGR fixes, no one is making promises.  "We've got to see what comes down, obviously the other negotiations going on, lot of moving parts, things are very fluid at this time," Lazarus says.

Still, healthcare officials were buzzing with reports about the SGR Thursday. On Capitol Hill, however, there was no official word about any discussions on the issue from the White House or Boehner.  

Most of the discussions focused on what Republicans termed a "Plan B" to avert the fiscal cliff, which would include blocking tax increases for anyone exceed those whose incomes exceed $1 million.

"The details are soft right now," says Jeffrey Cain, MD, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, referring to any plans regarding the SGR. "We've heard rumors and whispers." Still, with the issues swirling around the ‘fiscal cliff," there is a feeling that "this is a good time to really do something about the SGR," Cain adds.

"We're excited to learn of the interest from the House and Senate, and the President. Keeping the SGR in place means that healthcare costs will continue to escalate, and it will be harder for physicians to invest in new payment models like the patient centered medical home, Cain says.  

"There [have been] calls for repeal of the SGR since 2003, and we don't want decades to fix this," Cain adds. "We want to see carefully what proposals are put forth and we want to work closely with Congress."

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